Highlight Reel: August & September 2017

Cute and Flirty: Mr. Business has an oral fixation, and it’s a problem. It started off with him trying to suckle at my host family’s (younger) kitten, which was all kinds of disturbing, but since she’s gone (Mwenzi isn’t dead! She’s just living with my beekeeping counterpart now) he is still at it! My bedroom blanket, my towel, the mesh insides of my athletic shorts pocket, he can’t be satisfied. I feel like it’s because kittens are generally separated too early from their mothers here, but homeboy’s gotta get it together if we’re going to snuggle! 

Something I learned from my community: That, for every bummer interaction, there are two great interactions. I had a moment where, after an extremely uncomfortable and confusing conversation about my veranda construction in Lunda, I rage ate a whole pack of strawberry flavor and stress cry in my house. It’s hard to tell if you’re getting ripped off or not when you’re not great at talking about anything but field crops… but I got ripped off. But seriously, in the time since then I have had so many favors done for me I couldn’t even dream about in the states. My house looks beautiful thanks to two next-door neighbors building me a duck pen and cementing my foundation. My friend neighbor straight up gave me all his pumpkin seeds when I casually said I wanted to find and buy some. On a similar note, me joking about how dirty my bike was lead to an acquaintance using his minimal grease to clean my chain. And man, the sheer amount of pineapples and cassava meal I have received since coming to Ikelenge. I don’t think I’ll ever live in such a communal place again, and that makes me sad. 

Something my community learned from me: I’m gonna use this section to brag on my counterparts. Regan, (who came to Peace Corps HIV workshop) and I are co-leading Grassroots Soccer with the Grade 5s at my local basic school (basic: grades K-9), along with Paddi, one of my other counterparts. Rodgers K. (who came to North-Western Province’s Men as Partners training) is gearing up to work with George (who came to Feed the Future‘s beekeeping workshop) to pair beekeeping with HIV/gender education for adult men.  And Pethias, Gilpin, and Precious (my crew for Camp TREE) beat me to the punch and are starting an environmental club at the school! Did I directly teach this material to them? Well, some, but mostly no. But it warms my heart to see how much connecting people to educational resources makes a difference and motivates people to be changemakers in their communities! I’m a big fan of Peace Corps’ emphasis capacity building, and I think this illustrates how much it can work. My peeps rock 🤘🏻

Shower Insights: My sister sent me a care package a bit ago containing, amongst other things, a camp solar shower. I foolishly forgot to use it for almost all of cold season, but finally got around to it in August and wow. It was probably the most luxurious thing that I have ever done in my whole life. I feel like no one will understand in the states, but it was just lovely and I’m not saying that because my showers sucked before (they were pretty cold, though). Also, that thing is five gallons and it was a really nice bath; we really take water availability for granted in America and squander a lot of it!

Something That Didn’t Totally Fail: In the week between IST and other trainings where I was back at site, my neighboring health volunteer Sid and I ran a joint workshop at my local basic school. I notified all my headmen, in the hopes of getting a decent crowd, but got very nervous about it being too big when my villages headman sent callers out the night before! I shouldn’t have been worried because only 23 people showed up, but 23 is actually a pretty good turnout for a workshop and everyone was very motivated. I went over different forms of compost as a supplement to commercial fertilizer, and addressed soil nutrients (ideally, you feed your soil, and your soil feeds your crops; compost feeds your soil, whereas commercial fertilizer just feeds your crops). Then Sid segued into human nutrition, and we did some fun energizers to keep people awake (it was held in the evening)! Also, a water buffalo wandered out of a semi-nearby game reserve and it was a huge deal and we stopped for a bit to go try and find it. All in all, good experience!

Hero of the Month(s): My counterparts for being amazingly motivated and supportive! 

Villain of the Month(s): The termites now living in my ceiling beams. No poison can dissuade them! But seriously, how much poison does a kid have to slap onto their ceiling to catch a break around here?? 

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